Solo Acoustic Guitarist | African and Contemporary | Composer and Performer

One Night on Earth Reviews

“Gripper has cracked it…his playing has a depthless beauty, which does full justice to the complexity of Toumani’s compositions. To do so without any hint of the music being dumbed down is a staggering achievement on solo guitar…Gripper’s record genuinely complements Toumani’s music, and the more resonant sonorities of the guitar give the record its own baroque attraction…Gripper’s extensive liner notes are a tour de force, too – it’s one of the most perceptive and insightful pieces ever written about the kora and the compositional qualities of Toumani’s unique music.” [Nigel Williamson, Songlines Magazine]  read full review

“…one of the most atmospheric recordings of guitar music, of any kind, that I have heard…Derek Gripper has been grappling with the almost overwhelming task of ‘transcribing’ the music of the Kora to the solo guitar. More than a labour of love, Gripper has brought a new purity to the dream-like improvisatory nature of these compositions…the music is mesmerising…the phrases never seem to repeat themselves, although they also appear to move in concentric circles whilst soaring above you in the sky….The drones and ornamentation intertwine in a rich, beguiling counterpoint. My recording of the year, so far!” [Tim Panting Classical Guitar Magazine UK]

‎”The result is astounding, not just for its technical brilliance, but its musicality. Gripper executes these pieces with the precision and attention to detail one might expect from a great classical musician…It’s hard to imagine a more impressive and passionate rendering of Malian music on classical guitar, particularly from a person who has done it all his own way.” (Banning Eyre, Afropop Worldwide) Read the full review

an “extraordinary set of instrumentals…with a unique and quite astonishing guitar technique…at the same time tributes and also very intense, personal takes on the originals…there is a feeling of freedom that is liberating to listen to…he succeeds magnificently…A true synthesis and a great album.” [Ian Kearey, fRoots]

“Doing sublime justice to this music on six strings is an incredible achievement…enormously successful…this music is more about Agape than Eros. As with the excellent album, it is music that leaves you feeling a little more than human, a little better than human. [Chris Roper, Mail and Guardian] Read full review

“Gripper has created more than just transcriptions of kora music but has given listeners a sincere and thoughtful album of music. The synthesis of transcription and personal arranging is what makes this a spectacular achievement on guitar. Gripper is so at home with this music and that makes it more special than most albums I hear on classical guitar. Never do I feel he is struggling or ‘trying’ to pull something off.” [Bradford C. Werner, This is Classical Guitar Read full review

“For One Night on Earth, [Gripper] does not merely expose the voluminous rotundity of each quivering string, he takes the six strings traditionally allocated to Western guitar and transplants them into the world of the 21-string kora. It is an audacious operation which, in lesser hands, would prove disrespectful and, possibly, disastrous. But Gripper…is a master musician.” [Mick Raubenheimer, Rolling Stone]

“It’s hardly an exaggeration to suggest that there’s not a misplaced note or a misdirected emotion here, but, while every piece has clearly been carefully chosen and meticulously conceived, there’s nevertheless a wonderfully natural feel about the whole record.  Although each track is just one of a number of finely spun threads braided into extraordinarily durable rope, Gripper’s warmth, vitality and freshness of execution on the much performed Jarabi seems to represent the album’s character especially well…Anybody wondering why one would want to hear a South African guitarist play this music when the incomparable original recordings are available need only listen to the album once for the answer.” [Richard Haslop, Business Day] read full review

“I have listened to [“One Night on Earth”] with great interest. [Derek Gripper] has done some really excellent work transcribing and playing kora music on guitar and making it sound idiomatic, not an easy task…it really is quite stunning…an amazing job of reproducing Toumani’s music…done…with painstaking research, reverence for the music, and a lot of joy…an excellent piece of work.” [Lucy Duran of SOAS and Toumani Diabate’s producer]

“In a culture bent on compartmentalising its musicians, guitarist Derek Gripper is a slippery character. Here’s a guy who understands that a pigeonhole is not an enclosure but rather a place that a bird comes back to when it’s not busy flying….Both playful as well as poignant, Night on Earth sees the unprecedented “translation” of West African kora music to solo acoustic guitar and features the compositions of Mali’s legendary Toumani Diabaté…thrilling and highly-accessible. [Calum MacNaughton] Read full review

“It’s difficult to describe with the dull thud of words the transcendent, outer-worldly, quality of South African guitarist Derek Gripper’s musical explorations on his ninth recording, One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali.” []

“When listening one can hear many traditional sounding classical elements, as well as glimmers of flamenco, the bass always staying constant while the high end dances around the melody in a type of seemingly effortless nylon shredding lead, of course always remaining clean and acoustic, never distorted…Demonstrated on “One Night on Earth: Music From the Strings of Mali” is a vast and overwhelming knowledge of the guitar in general…Derek Gripper is a shining example of what kind of skill can be attained with discipline, and a desire for classic knowledge of the guitar.” [Examiner]

“Derek Gripper…who spends his life lifting the treasures of India, Brazil, Europe and Africa…has all the right in the world to claim a citizenship with the music of Mali. [021 Magazine]

“Derek Gripper has created a masterpiece in One Night on Earth…it’s the freshest and most inspiring guitar music I’ve heard coming from a South African guitarist in a long while.” [Tony Cox]

“A must-listen. Mustmustmustmustmust. Really. I can just put this album on repeat and not get tired of it. In fact, it just gets better.” [Wrath of the Grapevine]

“One of the best guitar CDs of 2012.” [Nowamuzyka, Poland]

“Superb album. One of 2012’s finest.” [Evan Milton, SA Music Journalist]

“an  amazing piece of work” Nick Gold of World Circuit

“very impressive” Ian Anderson, editor of fRoots